- Jul 24, 2012
At Spotsylvania Court House, photographer Timothy O'Sullivan records the death and burial of an unknown Confederate soldier. (Library of Congress)
That sounds logical to me. I have often wondered if that was a makeshift entrenching device, considering that the overland campaign was something new in terms of soldiers on both sides automatically throwing up breastworks and digging ditches every time they halted. It seems like a terrible thing to try to dig a hole with, but imagine how high the demand was for an actual shovel, and what your portable alternatives might have been, and suddenly that half of a canteen is as good as a track hoe. I have heard stories of soldiers even in ww2 digging makeshift fox holes with those tin coffee cups, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a DIY shovel.In the first photograph, lying on the ground next to the soldier's left hand, is what may be the bottom half of the combination mess kit canteen patented in 1861 and used by Connecticut troops as the state purchase one thousand "Canteen Ration Boxes" in 1862 for issue to the 1st Conn. Regiment. At least I can't find anything else that looks like the item in the photo and it appears that the straight edges were bent. Does anyone else have an idea of what this tin object is? If it is indeed what I think it is, it would have been captured earlier in the war and put to use by the Rebel soldier.